- Associated Press - Friday, April 25, 2014

BRYANT, Ark. (AP) - Arkansas Education Commissioner Tom Kimbrell has accepted a job as superintendent of the Bryant School District.

The Bryant School Board voted Thursday to offer the job to Kimbrell, who will take over as Bryant’s superintendent on July 1.

Kimbrell has led the Arkansas Department of Education since 2009, when he was named to replace outgoing commissioner Ken James. He told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (http://bit.ly/1hvY47N ) that he thought it was time for the education department to “get new ideas and go in a new direction.”

Matt DeCample, a spokesman for Gov. Mike Beebe, said it hasn’t been decided whether a permanent commissioner will be named to replace Kimbrell or if an interim commissioner will be named through the end of the year, when Beebe’s term ends.

Kimbrell has previously served as superintendent of school districts in Paragould and North Little Rock.

“His strengths in school finance, curriculum and instruction will be especially beneficial,” Bryant School Board President Rhonda Sanders said.

Kimbrell replaces superintendent Randy Rutherford, who left the district earlier this spring. The school hasn’t disclosed a reason for Rutherford’s departure and has denied Freedom of Information requests for more details.

The district is also facing an Arkansas State Police investigation into its finances after a state audit found irregularities in the district’s financial reports, including unauthorized spending.

“Because of the recent issues, there’s a need for strong leadership,” Kimbrell said. “Opportunities are about timing. You want to go where you can be sure and make a difference.”

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com

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